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Hard heart, hard hat

Leaders impact people. While leadership is not everything. it is something. The behavior, character and competence of leaders has ripple effects in the lives of the people whom they lead. Pharaoh, ruler of Egypt, was in a tough situation. On the one hand, he had a free workforce to labor on his projects. On the other hand, he had an 80-year-old liberator telling him to let the slave laborers take a break to go and worship in the desert. Had Pharaoh been an enlightened leader he might have thought giving a week of Personal Time Off (PTO) was fair… but he didn’t, and the disingenuous cycle continued: start plague repent stop plague change mind next plague. After a while Moses said,

“You still set yourself against my people and will not let them go. Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now.”

There was much back and forth, toing and froing, between Moses and Pharaoh....

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Sleeping with our eyes open

We used to have early morning meetings which were the normal mix of coffee and conversation. When we got down to business, however, I would look across at one of the men and sometimes his eyes were open, but he was gone… fast asleep. “The lights were on,” as the saying goes, “but no one was home.” That was a little freaky because he was both present and potentially absent at every meeting. According to WebMD, “You might be surprised to hear that some people sleep with their eyes open. And it's more common that you'd expect. About 20% of people do it, including babies. Doctors call this condition "nocturnal lagophthalmos."” Keith Green called it “asleep in the light.” 

The world is sleeping in the dark

That the church just can't fight

'Cause it's asleep in the light

I was reminded of this when I read a poignant account towards the end of Jesus’ life on earth. Some key things happened in quick succession, and you can...

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Who is your rewarder?

He is the rewarder Hebrews 11:6

This week as I went for a walk this phrase came to mind and I meditated on it. We live too much of life thinking that someone other than God is our rewarder. A coach, a child, a peer group, a fund manager, a landlord, a teacher, a boss, or a company. Who is your rewarder? Who dangles the carrots that drive your donkey forward? You may be an independent sort that says, “I make my own goals; no one tells me what to do.” Good—but when you do what you do, whose eye is upon you? Is it the approving eye of man, or the singular eye of your true Rewarder?

Imagine a week in your life lived fully cognisant of the truth that God is the only rewarder that matters. No stuffing in of meetings that don’t matter, except that Thus-and-so will be there. No time spent on activities that posture but do not produce. No browsing through magazines or websites or TV channels to gain a temporary reward.

In some ways God rewards everyone. We will all be...

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Healed people heal people

And may the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you, just as it does from us to you. May you be infused with strength and purity, filled with confidence in the presence of God our Father when our Master Jesus arrives with all his followers.

1 Thessalonians 3:12-13

It is not about us. How often have you heard this said, and wondered what it means? There are seasons when, in some senses, it has been about you. God loves us and simply wants the best for us. Psalm 35:27 says, “The Lord be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant.”

The truth is, we also want you to be whole so that you are optimally equipped to serve God’s purposes on earth. He wants our healed hurt to be a source of healing for others. 2 Corinthians 1 makes it clear that we comfort others with the comfort that we ourselves have received. The Message puts it this way:

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father...

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Avoiding captivity

…but they have no regard for the deeds of the Lord, no respect for the work of his hands. Isaiah 5:12

What is it that causes people to “perish” or go into “captivity”? The answer that is usually given: “lack of vision” or “lack of understanding.” This, however, is only part of the story. We have to ask, “What is it that they did not have knowledge about?” To understand this better we have to read the beginning of the chapter. It talks about a people who are socially and economically sophisticated: they have mansions, expand their businesses, know their wines and are music connoisseurs.  But they don’t really know God, are unjust and unrighteous.

Therefore my people will go into exile…

Most teaching tends to emphasize what comes after the “therefore”—lack of vision or understanding—rather than what comes before the “therefore.” The big issue is this: having...

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What to/not to do while you wait

The calendar has clicked over on a new year and, not surprisingly, your problems have not magically disappeared and your dreams have not been fulfilled (unless you dreamed to live another day, perhaps). In between now and when things come to fruition is the waiting and I find that waiting reveals more about who I am than does moments of fulfillment. Put more simply, how I wait speaks to who I am. Paul told his protégé, Titus:

“For the grace of God… trains us… while we wait” 

I remember years ago David Wilkinson (the Prayer of Jabez author) saying that he sinned when he felt uncomfortable so he learned to ask the Holy Spirit to comfort him, and this usually happened quickly when he consciously asked for comfort. Having to wait can cause discomfort, and when I am discomforted I can look for distractions: I look at YouTube (NFL Highlights, sailing, prophetic words, music… not necessarily bad stuff) or Facebook or Instagram. I find a...

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Devotional: Eternal big picture

till I entered the sanctuary of God
Psalm 73:17

Do you ever lack an understanding of the bigger context of life? Do you think your life is worse than others? Do you wonder why you have a hard time and those who don’t know God do fine? Asaph had the same challenge, and in Psalm 73 as he gives us a good reason to do “scorecarding,” to measure…but it has to be in the right context.

Although he is in a bad place personally, he knows enough about God to start with the general truth. “Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.” This is as true as “God loves everyone.” It is true, but it lacks the personal touch.  “But as for me, my feet had almost slipped…”  What follows is verse after verse of bad news for Asaph and good news for the rich. Finally, he arrives at the middle of this song and says, “When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me,...

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Devotional: Delayed or immediate belief

Zachariah said to the angel, “Do you expect me to believe this? I'm an old man and my wife is an old woman.”

And Mary said, “Yes, I see it all now; I'm the Lord's maid, ready to serve.”
Luke 1:5-38

Somewhere we have warmed to the notion that a skeptical response is a godly response. “Let me think it over... I am not sure I get it... could this be God?”, or the old favorite, “I'll pray about it.” In Luke chapter 1, we have two different responses to God. Zachariah wasn't about to have the wool pulled over his eyes, and so Gabriel had to clear the fog. “I am Gabriel, the sentinel of God, sent especially to bring you this glad news. But because you won't believe me...”  Said another way, 'Hey, Zach, this is Big Gabe who's talking to you... a real, live angel.  Listen up!' 

Mary's response was different.  “Yes... I am ready to serve.”

What was the difference between them? Zachariah had probably...

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Covid-19 and multi-generational living: is there a connection?

For the last seven years I have co-hosted The Kingdom Summit with my friend, Ben Akabueze and this year it was all virtual. One of our speakers, Dr. Tom Dooley, commented that the incidence of Covid-19 in Africa, which is much lower than predicted, is due partly to the fact that Africa does not shovel its elderly into old age homes. Many of Africa’s senior citizens live in multi-generational units. Now, I have often said “God is a multi-____ god” but have not fully thought through the implications on our health. The God of the Bible is inclusive: Multi-Nation, -Ethnic, -Gender, -Tongue, -Profession, -Tribe, -Generation. There are exceptions: God is adamant that He is the One True God (three-in-one, actually) and that there is only one way to God, Jesus Christ. 

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

That said, broad swaths of scripture have multigenerational...

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Devotional: Audience of One

Not that I accept human testimony…
John 5:34

How and what we perform is driven by whom we have in the audience of our minds, holding our scorecard.  Jesus knew the Father so well that He played for an audience of One. Contrast the dialogue we have in our minds with the statements of Jesus:

I’ve done pretty well... “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid.”

Even if I say so myself… “There is another who testifies in my favor.” 

It is public knowledge that he is on the XYZ Most Successful list… “Not that I accept human testimony…”

My portfolio speaks for me… “For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me.”

Our speaker tonight is a famous businessperson / athlete / movie star / whatever who just found Jesus last month… “I do not accept praise from men…”

We believe God…...

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